New York noise metallers Gnaw return with the third chapter in their terrifying discography, Cutting Pieces.
Unifying former and current members of Khanate, Enos Slaughters, Insect Ark and other acts across the underground music spectrum, Gnaw deliver a twisted and outre sound that is anything but easy listening. Its twisted amalgam of noise, industrial and a myriad of other strange musical stylings gnaws into the listener’s psyche, as the band’s name suggests. It’s not easily digestible, but it is highly rewarding for extreme music fans with mashochistic tendencies.
Cutting Pieces, their new recording of auditory torture, follows their well-received 2013 full-length, Horrible Chamber; a claustrophobic opus that showed the band incorporating more prominent metal instrumentation into their macabre view of the genre. The record continues along the path of its predecessor by featuring more discernible guitar work, but also harks back to 2009’s This Face with its moments of abstract weirdness, seemingly melding the atmospheres of both full-lengths into one.
Cutting Pieces begins with the lurching “Rat”, which cycles back-and-forth between creeping sludge grooves and bursts of cacophonous noise. As the song steadily marches along, various forms of instrumentation layer upon each other to create nightmarish atmospheres and walls of harsh, buzzing sound that are only made more foreboding by Alan Dubin’s myriad of shrieks, wails and murmurs. This short but unsweet number simultaneously pummels listeners and fills them with an insurmountable feeling of unease. “Rat” kicks of the record to a haunting start, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.
Tracks like “Septic” and “Wrong” show the band tapping more into their metal background and delivering some heavy, sludge-ridden pieces. “Septic” revolves around metallic, scraping guitars that craft groove-laden, chugging riffs that are propelled by mechanical, industrial percussion underneath. The hammering tune sounds like an early Godflesh track that has been fed through a Merzbow filter, and has been written by a borderline psychotic. “Wrong” also features a good amount of seismic doom, but this seven-minute track instead opts for Swans-esque mind-numbing repetition that lumbers along menacingly as piercing harsh noise wraps around every brooding chord. The track can be a bit meandering at times, but its heaviness is undeniable.
The album gets even weirder in tracks such as “Prowled Mary” and “Triptych”. The former track revolves around sparse, odd jazz instrumentation that slinks along in aberrated rhythms, and is spearheaded by Dubin’s unnerving whispers. The latter track closes out Cutting Pieces with over 10 minutes of slow-burning strangeness. The track begins with a noisy industrial doom sprawl that slowly becomes gradually more abstract, eventually transforming into walls of unsettling soundscapes and unorthodox instrumentation that reaches the final stage of its devolution in a final barrage or blood-curdling noise.
Though it should go without saying, Gnaw‘s Cutting pieces is certainly not for everyone. But those who like their extreme music unabashedly odd and unclassifiable will no doubt be enamored with this release.
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Label: Translation Loss
Favorite Tracks: “Rat”, “Septic”, “Prowled Mary” and “Fire”
For Fans Of: Khanate, Swans, Ehnahre, Godflesh and Locrian